Frederic Remington (1861-1909)
Infantryman in Field Costume (The Infantryman), 1890
Story illustration for “General Crook in the Indian Country” by John G. Bourke, Captain, 3rd Cavalry, U. S. A., in Century Magazine v. 41, no. 5 (March 1891)
watercolor and gouache on illustration board
Collection of the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund (1952.16)*
Infantryman in Field Costume is an example of the artist’s observant eye and talent for narrative art. It was made as one of twelve illustrations to accompany an article by Captain John G. Bourke of the 3rd Cavalry, U. S. A., published in Century Magazine. This illustration not only reflects Remington’s long-standing interest in the military,** but his comprehensive knowledge of its culture. His knowledge and familiarity with the mores of military life came about as a result of his being “embedded” with the army on many of its campaigns during the Indian wars of the late nineteenth century. “No man,” he wrote, “earns his wages half so hard as the soldier doing campaign work on the Southwestern frontier.”*** By the time Infantryman in Field Costume was published, Remington had consolidated his reputation as an illustrator of life in the West, particularly U.S. Army life. In that year, in addition to Infantryman in Field Costume, Century Magazine published another 18 of his illustrations, Harper’s Monthly, 36 and Harper’s Weekly, 119 – all about the West and all in that single year. He became an enormous success in a very short time.
Like such artists and writers who depicted the West as Owen Wister, Theodore Roosevelt (both of whom became friends and whose books he illustrated), Charles Schreyvogel, Frank Schoonover, N.C. Wyeth and Mary Hallock Foote, Remington was an Easterner. He was born and raised in Canton and Ogdensburg, New York. His formal art training was minimal: two years at the Yale School of Fine Arts beginning in 1878, under John Henry Niemeyer and later in 1886, a brief stint at the Art Students League of New York.